Sunday, January 20, 2008

this is what I do

I got the call from my office around 10:50 in the morning, as I was making my first visit of the day. "Mr P. died, you need to go over there". I sighed, he had died faster than I had hoped but he had been eating less and less, sleeping more. I knew that it would be a tough visit, his son was an emotional person, not an emotional wreck but he wore his feelings on the outside. He always looked a little lost, fear hiding behind his eyes. He was losing his dad, and had already lost his mom a few yesrs back, and you could just see that hint of a little boy getting ready to cry, "just one more day, one more time to watch a ball game, joke with him, I miss him already". When we got there, the home health aide and I, his boy was pale, shaky, the time had fnally come, and how do you prepare for this? We sat around the table and talked, not just about his dad, but about anything. He visibly relaxed, for a few minutes. There was no hurry now.

We found Mr P. in his bed covered with a sheet, almost as if to hide a mess no one wanted to look at. We uncovered him, layed the head of the bed down, and began our work. First I took out the tubes and bandages, and we washed him, carefully and gently. This time turning him didn't hurt, and we did not feel as bad as we usually did having to move him. We put a clean bandage on his wounds, and a brand new clean tee shirt, and underwear. I rubbed lotion on his arms and legs and we washed his face. We pulled out the dirty sheets beneath him and replaced them with new clean ones. We put a pillow behind his head, and we rolled up the head of the bed. The sheet was folded neatly, and you would almost think he was just sleeping. His boy and his grandson peeked into the room, this time not with fear, but with recognition, this was dad again, not a horror but just dad.

It felt like we gave this boy a gift, the chance to have just a little more time, instead of his last glimpse being his dad hunched over in bed, curled up and dirty, a sheet hastily thrown over him to cover the sight, to have the last picture of his dad one of him resting quietly and peacefully in his bed, of clean sheets and a clean body, no ragged breathing, no more pain.

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